16 Great Books Every Eight-Year-Old Should Be Familiar With

Being an eight year old is a wonderful time of life. Not quite a grown-up, not quite a full child anymore, I believe all eight year olds need to have great books to accompany their lives. The reason I’ve chosen to share some books for eight-year-olds is simple. By this time, they’re pretty much done with all the easy readers, ready for something a little bit more challenging (and interesting!), but not quite ready for long books, ones with big words, or ones that take a long time to get into.

Age eight is a fun time of life. For all you children out there, I hope you’ll find some lifetime friends in the books below (I know I did when I was your age)!

16 Great Books Every Eight-Year-Old Should Be Familiar With

Note: The first ten books, especially, have Christian themes in them.

Sarah Whitcher’s Story, by Elizabeth Yates1. Sarah Whitcher’s Story  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Sarah’s family live in the new, sparsely-populated state of New Hampshire. Pa and Ma have a great faith in God, and they teach their children to love and honor God as well. Then one day, four-year-old Sarah wanders into the great forest, and gets lost. When she doesn’t appear on call, the family gets desperate—and soon all the neighboring men come to help search for the little girl. With all kinds of wild animals in the woods, hungry and alone, Sarah could easily die. Pa has faith that the Lord will direct them to where his daughter is, but as two days pass people begin to give up the search—she could be anywhere, or even dead by now. Then, a stranger comes, saying he’s had a dream of a little lost girl, and knows where she is. Has Pa’s faith in God paid off? Will the family get their sister and daughter back? With so many wild animals around, will she be safe? This is a true story, written so well that even adults will enjoy it. I loved the strong Christian themes of hope and faith through the story!

Mountain Born, by Elizabeth Yates2. Mountain Born (and A Place for Peter)  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

These two books are both about Peter, the first when he was a young boy, and the last when he was a young man. Mountain Born tells about Peter’s love for an orphaned lamb, and how he raises it to be the leader of the flock. Along the way, Old Benj teaches him about how to care for a flock—and, while learning to be a leader, Peter also learns what it means to be a follower. Through different experiences, Peter grows from an inexperienced boy into a more mature young man.

Then, in A Place for Peter, Peter—now a young man—longs to gain his father’s approval. His mother is suddenly called away to help her sick brother, and Peter must step in to do the jobs his mother usually does—such as tending the garden and making maple syrup. Peter is determined to make his mother proud, showing both her and his father that he can be trusted. Through these stories, Peter learns valuable lessons on responsibility, God’s love, and what it means to be a man. These books are beautiful in that, while they’re definitely Christian, they aren’t “in-your-face”. Peter learns some wonderful lessons, but they aren’t presented in an unbelievable way. Peter’s life is one that many children will be able to identify with—and will not forget easily!

Catching Their Talk in a Box, by Betty M. Hockett3. Catching Their Talk in a Box  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

In my opinion, every Christian book list ought to have at least one missionary story in it. Aside from the missionary aspect, this book is a great encouragement and a wonderful introduction to Christian principles. Joy Ridderhof was raised in a God-fearing family, and as a young adult, she met the Lord. From that day on His will was the focus of her life. She went to serve as a missionary in Central America. After a bout of sickness, she was forced to return to the US. Her illness continued, but she still wanted to do something for the Lord. Then she realized how little literature and other Christian material in Spanish was available for the fledgling churches.

In order to help and encourage the churches, she decided to make records of portions of the Bible, Bible stories, short sermons, and songs. With these “talking boxes”, she along with several friends traveled through many different areas, sharing the gospel message with all they met. Joy’s life work brought many to Christ, and this book captures a little bit of her zeal and faith in a way that even the youngest children can understand and appreciate. And even though I’m a older child, this book is still fascinating and well worth a read.

In Grandma’s Attic, by Arleta Richardson4. In Grandma’s Attic  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

This book has to be one of my most favorite stories from childhood ever. Mabel and Sarah Jane get into many different forms of trouble, and learn some great lessons because of it. At one time, they try wearing hoop skirts to church—not a good idea if you’ve never worn them before! Mabel also loses a horse and buggy, we learn how Ma wore her aprons, and how Mabel herself got lost one winter night, among many other funny and thought-provoking stories. Mabel’s family had a firm faith in God, and that shows up time after time through the book. I believe all children will love these stories, and girls especially will enjoy them.

The Journeyman, by Elizabeth Yates5. The Journeyman  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

Jared Austin always had an artist’s flair, but with a harsh home life he is never able to share his talent with anyone. Since birth, his father, Eben Austin, has thought of him only as a curse, and now as a young man he feels hopeless of ever finding a way to gain his father’s approval. Then, a traveling painter comes by, and even though he’s never held much for art, Eben shows kindness to the man. That evening, the stranger notices Jared’s talent as he tries to keep his sisters quiet for the grown-up’s sake. After observing Jared’s home life, the journeyman asks Eben if he could take the boy as an apprentice. Will life finally look up for Jared? Can he follow his dreams? This is a lovely story about a boy in New England, showing his commitment to God even when things got tough. It also tells the story of the year 1816, when late frosts destroyed crops and snow fell every month of the year. This is a beautiful story that both adults and children will love.

The Window in the Wall, by Ginny Merritt6. The Window in the Wall  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Imagine the fall of Jericho—from the perspective of someone inside the walls. This is the story that Ginny Merritt has told. Talia lives with her family inside the great city of Jericho, helping her father in the fields, watching her brother, and enjoying the company of her family. Then strangers from the army of Israel visit her aunt Rahab—and the Israelites are drawing nearer and nearer to the city each day. The Israelite’s God has been fighting for them so far—is there any hope that the city will be saved? This is a beautifully written story, and brilliantly shows what life might have been like before the Israelites came. A wonderful addition to any Bible study of that time, especially one involving young children (this book is definitely geared toward young ears).

Markie and the Hammond Cousins, by Wanda M. Yoder7. Markie and the Hammond Cousins (the Hammond Cousins series, book 1)  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

The Hammond cousins face a challenge when their cousin Markie and his family move into the area. Markie has Down Syndrome, and they aren’t sure how to make him feel at home—they’re not even certain they want to admit to their friends that he’s a relative! Can the Hammond cousins learn to love and care for Markie? Will they be able to get past his problems, and accept him as he is? This is a great book for introducing Down Syndrome to children, and is a very clean read.

Ricky and the Hammond Cousins, by Wanda M. Yoder8. Ricky and the Hammond Cousins (the Hammond Cousins series, book 2)  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

The second book in the Hammond cousins series, in this story the cousins are faced with an even bigger challenge than before: Ricky, Uncle Jerry’s son. Due to his parent’s lifestyle at the time he was born, Ricky has problems with ADHD, and can’t keep still for anything. He is also very rebellious. Is there any hope that with love and good care Ricky can turn out to be a happy, obedient boy? Can the Hammond cousins learn to love him—even when he is nasty? This is a great book for introducing ADHD to children, and also shares some valuable examples of obedience to parents through the story. This story is a very clean read.

Granny Han’s Breakfast, by Sheila Groves9. Granny Han’s Breakfast  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Granny Han is a missionary in China, and she has a problem. She needs $1000 for upcoming meetings. God did provide that amount already, but it came after the banks had closed for the weekend, and while she was gone to another meeting the money was stolen. With time running out, will God provide the amount needed? Granny Han believes he will. This is a beautiful story of faith and relying on God, one that has been and will be a favorite for our family for years to come.

Year of the Black Pony, by Walt Morey10. Year of the Black Pony  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

It’s a good thing CDs don’t wear out very fast, because my brothers have used our audio version of this story hard—listening to it 10 or more times over the course of the year or two since we first got it. Chris’s father has died, and the family must find a way to continue working their ranch. But money is scarce—and it soon becomes apparent that a twelve-year-old boy, his mother, and eight-year-old sister cannot keep a farm going on their own. Chris’s mother decides the best way to keep the family together and on the land they love would be to marry a local rancher, Mr. Chase. Will the family ever feel like a real family again? With tensions in the home, can Chris ever have a happy family—or get the horse he wants? This is a wonderful boy’s story—although girls will love it too!—and has some beautiful thoughts throughout the book. The ending is very sweet, as well.

Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop11. Twenty and Ten  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

Sister Gabriel is taking care of twenty children outside a remote village, hoping to keep them safe until the war is over. Then, she and the children are asked to take in ten Jewish children. After weighing the risks, they decide to do it. Then, one day, Sister Gabriel does not come back from her usual walk into town for food and news. Instead, the children spot two Nazi soldiers coming up the road. What can they do now? How can they protect the Jewish children, and keep them safe until the Nazis leave? This is a beautiful story, and would be great for introducing World War II to children.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry12. Number the Stars  |  Best for: Ages 7 – 12

Annemarie and her family must hide her friend, Ellen—who is a Jew—from the Nazi soldiers. With the streets becoming more dangerous each day, how long do they have before the Nazis find out they are harboring the girl? Then, early one morning, the Nazis come. Will they find out the truth? What will happen to Ellen if they discover her true identity? This is a thrilling adventure, one that I loved as a girl and still really enjoy.

The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong13. The Wheel on the School  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

This story is one of Mom’s all-time favorites. The school children of the Dutch fishing village named Shora realize that even though other villages get storks, they do not! Storks used to come, but now with few trees in the town and no wheels on anyone’s roof, the storks fly right on over. They decide to find a wheel, in the hope that storks will once again come to live with them. But where is an old wagon wheel to be found? Everyone always repairs their wheels when they break, and if they can’t repair them they generally aren’t fit to hold storks, either! Will they be able to track a wheel down before the stork season is over?

I think Meindert DeJong’s strong point is characters. The Wheel on the School is crammed full of fun, fascinating characters. Besides a delightful story, this book is rich in the people and ways of Dutch fishing villages.

Mary on Horseback, by Rosemary Wells14. Mary on Horseback  |  Best for: Ages 7 – 10

Mary Breckinridge, who founded Frontier Nursing Service, was a fascinating woman. After her two children—as well as her second husband—died, she decided to become a nurse so others could live. Through these three stories, we get to see her in action, and learn what it meant to be a nurse in the Appalachian mountains. This is a great story to introduce nursing to children.

Sticks Across the Chimney, by Nora Burglon15. Sticks Across the Chimney  |  Best for: Ages 7 – 12

This story quickly captured my brother’s attention, and they begged for it even during the times Mom was supposed to be reading other stories for school. It follows the adventures of Siri and Erik, two siblings, who want to go to the Spring Fair. Even though what they make has not won the chance to go through the school competition, they decide to take their handicrafts anyway, and try to sell them. This sets off a chain of events that eventually brings Grandfather, an archaeologist, to their farm to dig up a mysterious mound that everyone in the nearby village believes is haunted. Will their family finally be able to support themselves? This story is very simple, but quite sweet—and would be useful for teaching about Vikings, archaeology, Denmark, or Scandinavia.

Follow My Leader, by James B. Garfield16. Follow My Leader  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Jimmy Carter’s world is turned upside down when a firecracker accidently explodes in his face and he is permanently blinded. Through his lengthy recovery, he wonders if he’ll ever be able to lead a normal life again. He must learn many new things—Braille, how to use a white cane, and—most importantly of all—how to care for and use a guide dog in the place of his eyes. Will he ever be able to participate in the things he used to do? And, more importantly, can he forgive the boy who—unintentionally—threw the firecracker his way? This is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, and learning to live with blindness. It is a great way to share the topic of blindness with children.

Question: Were any of these a part of your childhood? If you made a list of books for eight-year-olds, what titles would you include?

16 Must-Read Christian Books for Teens

In this age of technology, we teens tend to spend more time on our devices than with our families or learning about the things that really matter. The books below are a small collection of some of the wonderful, worthwhile books out there. Most are about fascinating missionaries—people who put their all into the work God gave them.

The teen years are the amazing developing years—when we finally decide what we’re going to believe about the world—and as such, we need to make sure that the books we read at that time are worthwhile and upbuilding, as well. While some of these Christian books for teens are for younger teenagers, some are for young adults—and there is so much to learn (and enjoy!) in each one of them.

16 Must-Read Christian Books for Teens

How to Stay Christian in High School, by Steve Gerali1. How to Stay Christian in High School  |  Best for: Age 15 and above

This book is a gem. It discusses some pretty weighty matters, and yet it’s well-written and gripping. Through the stories of different teens in the Bible—Joseph, Daniel, Mary, James and John—Steve Gerali draws powerful lessons on what it means be, think, and behave like a Christian when you’re a teen. I loved how he made the Bible stories so relatable—almost like bringing them into the 21st century, helping us understand why things are the way they are in the Bible. If you’re looking for encouragement, or a helping hand as you navigate the world of teendom (is that a word?), this is a great resource.

Mary Slessor Forward into Calabar, by Janet Geoff Benge2. Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

Mary Slessor…the woman who wanted to be a missionary, but when her brother died and she couldn’t go with him she went by herself. First, she practiced at home. For several years she taught a Sunday school class—often bringing in some of the tough children around town to teach. Then she felt the call to go as a missionary by herself—without her brother—and soon she was on her way to Calabar. Through many adventures, much faith, and lots of love, she worked with the African people and helped many come to the truth. This is a great story about a fascinating missionary, and is also a good encouragement to do what you believe you should do—when it’s in line with God’s Word, that is.

Star of Light, by Patricia St. John3. Star of Light  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15 and above

Hamid, a ten-year-old from a poor family, must get his blind two-year-old sister Kinza away from their stepfather, who has decided to sell the girl in order to get rid of her—to him, she is useless. With their mother’s help, he sets off for a city over the mountains where his mother knows a Christian English nurse lives. She had been to the nurse, years ago, when her son was sick. She knew the woman loved everyone and would care for Kinza as if she were her own child. After a difficult journey—and almost being caught—Hamid is able to give Kinza to the nurse. Then the stepfather comes to town and spots Kinza. What will happen now? This is very much a Christian story, with beautiful themes about Jesus woven in. I really enjoy re-reading this book.

Twice Freed, by Patricia St. John4. Twice Freed  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15 and above

Onesimus’ one desire since he can remember is to be free—no longer a slave, but a man in his own right. Then, one evening as he and his master are in Ephesus on business, a new voice is heard among the confused hubbub of the worship of the goddess Diana—a man who is teaching about a new God, one who loves and cares for His children. But how can such a thing be? Strangely, his master is drawn to the man—whose name is Paul—and while Onesimus longs to accept the new teaching as well, he can’t forgive those who have wronged him. Can he ever be truly free? Will his hate make his life bitter forever? This masterfully written story of the boy found in the book of Philemon shows the effect hate has on us, and how there is hope in Jesus.

Nothing Else Matters, by Patricia St. John5. Nothing Else Matters  |  Best for: Age 12 and above, Adults

Lamia’s life has taken an ugly turn when her brother is captured—and then killed by militant Muslims who used to be their friends. With civil war raging all around them, her family must eke out a living as well as they can. As time goes on, her faith in the God of the Bible lessens, and is replaced by anger and hate. Even though redemption is offered to her, can she forgive her enemies—those who killed her mother, brother, and who destroyed their home and family? Although terribly sad, this story also has a blossom of faith among the ashes. It tells the unforgettable story of the Lebanese civil war in 1975, and is a gripping tale of grief and hope.

David Livingstone – Africa’s Trailblazer, by Janet and Geoff Benge6. David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

David Livingstone is an icon of modern missionary history. As a boy in Scotland, he was fascinated in adventure stories, and after coming to the Lord he soon realized he wanted to become a missionary. Eventually making it to Calabar, Africa, he spent some time with the missionaries there and then headed inland on explorations of his own. He married the daughter of Robert Moffat, and together they moved to a mission station he built further inland from the main center.

The travel bug, however, wouldn’t allow him to stay still long, and soon he moved on to other unexplored horizons. His wife eventually went back to England, where she could care better for the children while he was mapping new areas and meeting different needy tribes. David never settled down for proper missionary work, but he did invaluable work in preparation for other missionaries to come evangelize after him. This is a fascinating biography.

The Church of the East, by John Holzmann7. The Church of the East  |  Best for: Age 15 and above, Adults

After Rome fell, what happened to the church in the eastern half of the world? Whenever we study church history, we always hear a lot about the western church—how the church councils went, what popes were in office when, how there were schisms in the church, what the main debates of the time were, what groups broke off from the official church, etc. Before I read this book, I had little to no knowledge of what happened to the eastern church after the fall of Constantinople in 1204—although trouble had been brewing between the Roman and Greek churches since before 1000. This book fills in the gap. It tells of the Nestorian movement—which was condemned by a church council in 431—how it spread all over eastern Asia, bringing thousands to the Lord. It also tells of the affect of Roman Catholic priests coming into areas where the Nestorians still held on even in the late 1400s/early 1500s. This is a fascinating book, one that is a must-read if you’re studying church history. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it—even though it is a bit gruesome at times.

Cameron Townsend, by Janet & Geoff Benge8. Cameron Townsend: Good News in Every Language  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

During World War I, God called Cameron Townsend to go to Guatemala to sell Bibles. Even though he had been enlisted in the army, God miraculously gave him an honorable discharge, and he set off for Guatemala. When he finally arrived, he slowly began to realize that none of the country people could read—or even speak—Spanish! One man he talked to said that his God must not be very great, because He couldn’t speak the native language. This disturbed Cam, and soon he set to work to learn and write down the Indian’s language. Ten years later, he had a completed version of the New Testament. After realizing how much need there was for this kind of thing, he founded the Wycliffe Bible Translators to train other people for the important task of giving the Bible to unreached people groups. The work is still going on today—inspired by a man who was willing to give all to do what his God wanted him to do.

Torches of Joy, by John Dekker9. Torches of Joy  |  Best for: Age 10 and above, Adults

In 1960, John and Helen Dekker moved to New Guinea to work among the Dani people. The Dani lived in filthy villages, always fearful of the spirits and each other. John began sharing the gospel with them, and soon a church was organized. Soon, the villages were becoming cleaner, and fear of the spirits was disappearing. Many learned to read, write, and soon the Dani were sending out their own missionaries to neighboring tribes. This is a truly incredible, inspiring story of how God can change an entire culture for their good and His glory.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Janet & Geoff Benge10. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In the Midst of Wickedness  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15, Adults

When Hitler rose to power, Dietrich Bonhoeffer—a pastor in Germany—feared this spelled the doom of his well-beloved homeland. As Hitler’s influence grew, Dietrich began warning the Germans of what was to come if he wasn’t overthrown. No one seemed to pay attention to him, however, and as the Nazi party became stronger and stronger it soon became very difficult to continue leading a quiet Christian life. Pastors were being targeted by the officials, as they tried to control what they taught their congregations. Dietrich wasn’t one to back down easily, however. He did his best to keep the international Christian community aware of what was going on in Germany—although it was very dangerous work.

After seeing how Hitler was treating his own people and those in the nations that he conquered, Dietrich came to the belief that it would be better to kill him than let him murder more people. He was involved in several unsuccessful assassination attempts, and eventually was imprisoned. Although not a very happy story, this is a fascinating look at World War II from the German perspective, and also a great biography of a famous Christian theologian.

Gladys Aylward, No Mountain Too High, by Myrna Grant11. Gladys Aylward: No Mountain Too High  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15

Gladys Aylward, the woman who influenced Chinese missions almost as much as Hudson Taylor, is brought to life in this biography. Gladys longed to go to China as a missionary, but the mission board decided she was too old to learn Chinese. However, this would not stop her one bit—so she saved her pennies, bought a railroad ticket, and managed to get through the war lines between Russia and China safely. She eventually reached Yangcheng, where she helped an old missionary named Mrs. Lawson run an inn. They worked together for several years, and when Mrs. Lawson died Gladys took over running the inn with the help of a Chinese man. Gladys had many adventures as she helped, healed and witnessed to many people. This is an inspiring story, one that any will enjoy.

The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare12. The Bronze Bow  |  Best for: Age 10 and above, Adults

Judea, at the time of Christ—Daniel hates what the Romans have done to his country and his family, and is willing to do anything he can to rid the land of them. While living with a local band of rebels, he is able to unleash his hatred at times, but when his grandmother dies he is suddenly burdened with the responsibility of his sister. Forced to move back to the village, Daniel takes up the blacksmith’s trade—after a friend suddenly gives up working to go follow a new teacher named Jesus. Daniel cannot understand the love and joy he senses in this man, and longs for it—but he cannot forgive the Romans, as Jesus tells him he should. Will hate and anger always rule his life? Can he ever find true, lasting joy? This story brings to life the struggles that everyday Jews at the time had. It also shows how beautiful Jesus’ words were to them who accepted Him. Incredibly well written and gripping—not “flat” like other books about the time tend to be—this is a must read if you’re studying Jesus’ life or if you just want an entertaining story (while getting some history on the side, if you prefer!).

Within the Palace Gates, by Anna P. Siviter13. Within the Palace Gates  |  Best for: Age 12 and above, Adults

A retelling of the life of Nehemiah—from what we know about him in the book of Nehemiah—Anna P. Siviter has crafted a thrilling story describing the events spoken of in the Bible. Nehemiah, cupbearer to the great king Artaxerxes Longimanus, lives in the Persian capitol Susa with his mother. When his brother—thought to be long dead—appears in the city, Nehemiah learns of the tragic state of the Jewish nation. The walls of Jerusalem are broken down, and raiding bands often sweep through, taking captives and all valuables that they can find. Nehemiah decides he must journey to Jerusalem, and oversee the rebuilding of the city. Meanwhile, his brother Hanani has suffered the loss of his wife and eldest son to raiders, and has come to petition the king to help him get his dear ones back. Will Nehemiah be given permission to go? Will Hanani recover his wife and son—before it’s too late? This story is full of adventure, and brings the Biblical chronicle to life without destroying any facts we know of the time or from the Biblical account. I found it very encouraging to my faith, and really enjoyed the ending.

Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems, by Janet & Geoff Benge14. Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

Amy Carmichael dedicated her life to the service of the Lord, and even through sickness she did her best to help others. When the Lord called her to work for Him as an eighteen-year-old, she had no idea what He wanted her to do. Soon, it became apparent that—for the time being at least—she was to work among the “shawlies”—women who worked in Scotland’s many factories. After several years of productive service, Amy went on to be a missionary in Japan for a time, and then because of poor health she moved to India. Eventually, she founded Dohnavur Fellowship, where she and other Indian Christians took in and cared for many homeless girls. Throughout her many illnesses, she wrote many different books and pamphlets, trying to encourage Christians around the globe. This is a fascinating biography, one that I found very inspirational.

Mary Slessor - Missionary Mother, by Terri B. Kelly15. Mary Slessor: Missionary Mother  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15, Adults

Mary Slessor, missionary to Calabar, Africa, didn’t have a very easy upbringing. Her father was a drunkard, and she, her mother, and her sister had to support their family with what little they could earn in Scotland’s factories. Even though she worked long hours, she did her best to learn what she could, and she helped teach a thriving Sunday School as a young adult. Then God called her to Calabar, and with the blessing of her mother she went. Through her lifetime of ministry to the Africans, she touched many lives and was an inspiration to many more. She never gave up, and always did what she felt was right—even in the face of severe opposition. Many came to the Lord through her witness. This book is a great introduction to her life, one I enjoyed reading.

Light From Heaven, by Christmas Carol Kauffman16. Light from Heaven  |  Best for: Age 12 and above, Adults

With a father who never wanted children—whose only ambition in life was to make more money—Joseph had a rough upbringing. His mother loved him dearly, and taught him to love and serve the Lord. As the years went by, with his father abusing and belittling him as much as he could, Joseph learned to take all his cares to his Heavenly Father. Then Joseph met and began courting the woman he believed was God’s choice for him. When his father decided he didn’t like the match—and did his best to break up the courtship—Joseph had to learn to forgive. A story of how evil can be turned into a blessing by God, this is an encouraging tale of faith.

Question: What was the title of the last good book you read? What Christian books for teens would you add to this list?

30 Books to Add to Your (Already Piled) Family Read-Alouds Stack

Family read-aloud times are so special. It’s a time when Mom (or Dad!) can sit down, relax, and share stories that both expand our worldview and provide good role models for us to follow. For years, Mom has read aloud to us, taking us around the globe into many different homes, helping us love and understand different cultures in new ways. Some books are funny, others are sad, some were read purely for the fun of good literature, others for the morals taught in the stories. Together, we siblings have had many adventures, and been able to learn to enjoy working while listening to constructive stories. Here are some of our favorite family read-alouds.

30 Books to Add to Your (Already Piled) Family Read-Alouds Stack

Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop1. Twenty and Ten  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Sister Gabriel is caring for twenty children, sheltering them outside a remote village until the war is over. Then she receives a note saying that ten Jewish children need a safe place to hide, and together she and the children decide it is their duty to stretch their food rations and take the risk of protecting Jews. One day, while on a food and news-gathering trip, Sister Gabriel does not return at the expected time. Then the children spot two Nazi soldiers biking up the path. Can they hide the Jewish children in time? Will their secret be found out? This is a fascinating story about World War II, perfect for introducing the war to children, or simply to be enjoyed as a well-written, gripping tale of courage.

Sarah Whitcher’s Story, by Elizabeth Yates2. Sarah Whitcher’s Story  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Moving into the new territory of New Hampshire, Sarah’s parents knew that there could be much danger waiting for them—especially with their young family and the miles of uncleared forest around their land. Despite the potential difficulty, they decided to trust the Lord to protect them, and soon they were comfortably settled in their own log cabin. One day, however, Sarah wandered a little too far from home and got lost. After much searching, the neighbors from around came to help look for the little girl—only three or four years old—and yet, after two days, they turned up empty handed. Has Pa’s faith been misplaced? Will the family see their little daughter and sister again? This is a beautiful story of faith, one that all families will love, and one that even the youngest children can appreciate.

Escape from Warsaw (or The Silver Sword), by Ian Serraillier3. Escape From Warsaw  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

Joseph, father of three children and husband of an adoring wife, has been taken prisoner by the Nazis. He manages to escape—only to find out from a neighbor that his wife has also been taken by the Nazis, and that his children were killed when their home was blown up by a bomb. The Nazis are on his trail, and he must find a safe place to hide. After an accidental meeting with a surprisingly intelligent street urchin, he gives him the charge to stay safe—and, if possible, tell his children that they are to go to their grandparent’s place. Meanwhile, the children had actually escaped the house before it was blown up, and formed a home for themselves in a discrete corner of the city. The street urchin finds them there, delivers the message, and decides to live with them. When the eldest boy, Edik, is taken by the Nazis, the two girls have no choice but to make the dangerous trip to their grandparent’s place. Will they ever be a family again? This is a fascinating story, one that is definitely not going to be forgotten for a while around here!

Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan4. Snow Treasure  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

The Nazis have invaded Norway, and the gold bullion of the country is in danger. Peter’s uncle determines that it is his and the other village children’s job to spirit the gold away to safety. By wrapping the gold in small burlap sacks, which they hid under their bodies, the village children take turns making the day-long sled ride down to a hidden fiord, where a boat is waiting to conceal the precious metal. The job is risky—in order to get to the fiord, the children must pass the Nazi’s encampment. Will they be found out? What will happen to the children if they do? Based on a true story, this makes for a fascinating adventure—one all children will heartily enjoy.

Mary Slessor Forward into Calabar, by Janet Geoff Benge5. Mary Slessor: Forward into Calabar  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

Part of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series, this book helps Mary Slessor seem more of a friend than a boring person in history. Tracing her life from the very beginning as a girl helping her mother bring in money to keep the family fed, to her brothers and father dying, this book is an intimate look at an amazing woman. Through much faith and perseverance, Mary brought change to the African people and helped many find truth, hope, and new life in Jesus Christ. She not only cared for many children throughout her life, but she also prevented many young women from dying unnecessary deaths to fulfill ancient evil customs. This book is a wonderful example of early African missions, and a testament of God blessing others through Mary’s fearless faith.

Star of Light, by Patricia St. John6. Star of Light  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15 and above

When Hamid’s step father finds out his sister Kinza is blind, he decides to sell her to a local beggar—it would be useless to keep a blind girl around, because no one would want to marry her. Hamid loves his sister, and couldn’t imagine a worse fate for the sweet two-year-old. Together, he and his mother concoct a plan for getting her away safely to a Christian nurse in a city across the mountains. The journey is dangerous, but somehow Hamid manages to make it and gives the nurse his dear sister. What should he do now? And what will happen when their stepfather accidentally spots Kinza on a visit to the city? This is a beautiful story—one I love re-reading—with many thoughts about Jesus as the light of the world throughout it.

History Lives Series, by Mindy and Brandon Withrow7. History Lives series  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 12

This series brings snapshots of Christian history to life—St. Paul, Thomas Aquinas, Charlemagne, Menno Simons, John Calvin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and many others. I love the rich detail that is woven into each of the stories—even though a lot has to be packed into one chapter, you don’t get the feeling that these are just descriptions of a person’s life. Instead, each one shows the realities of living on planet earth, the pain along with the beauty of Jesus working in people. With just what can be fit comfortably in a chapter, you feel like you know the individual people when you get to the end—they’re that real. In between each story of someone’s ministry, there are little snapshots of the period and explanations of some things children might have questions about. These books are a brilliant way to share Christian history with your children!

Twice Freed, by Patricia St. John8. Twice Freed  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15 and above

As a slave to Philemon’s son, Onesimus’ one goal in life is to be a free man. Then he meets Eirene, the beautiful daughter of a merchant, and longs even more to be free so he can marry her. When Philemon and his son become Christians, Onesimus becomes desperate to be free once and for all. Though his life is miserable because of his anger and hate, Onesimus cannot accept Christianity for himself. Then comes an opportunity for revenge—but that does nothing more than cause more emptiness inside him. Is there ever hope that he can be happy again? This is a beautiful story that, while sharing the ancient Greek lifestyle, also captures the beauty of freedom and peace in Christ. It also sticks very closely to what we know of Philemon and his household in the Biblical chronicle. This is a story for slightly older children—while younger children do enjoy it, it is more understandable to the 10–12 range and up.

Catching Their Talk in a Box, by Betty M. Hockett9. Catching Their Talk in a Box  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

After serving as a missionary in Central America for several years, Joy Ridderhof was forced to take a furlough because of bad health. The sickness would not leave, but she still longed to do something for the Lord. After realizing how badly Christian material was needed in the Spanish language, she decided to start producing records of Bible stories, songs, and short sermons. After seeing how effective this was, she began branching out into other languages, and traveled the world as she shared the gospel with many previously unreached people groups. Joy put into practice the command “rejoice always”, and her life was a testimony of God using someone who is willing to give up all and follow Him. While written for young children, even adults can be encouraged through this story to do Jesus’ will—no matter where you are.

In Grandma’s Attic, by Arleta Richardson10. In Grandma’s Attic  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

Entertaining stories, true life happenings, and life lessons combine to make this an unforgettable book. Mabel and Sarah Jane believe they know how to take care of themselves, but when they’re faced with choosing right over wrong—or simply trying to strain milk—they often find out that Ma and Pa know better. Through hilarious—and sometimes sad—happenings, Mabel and Sarah Jane learn what it means to be responsible and trustworthy. Even though girls, especially, love this book, boys will be able to learn from and enjoy it as well.

The Journeyman, by Elizabeth Yates11. The Journeyman  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

This book has been one of my personal favorites for years. Not only is it an engrossing story, but it also shares the love of God in a special way. Jared Austen loves art and has always wished that he could duplicate the beauty he sees around him in pictures. However, his father Eben will have nothing to do with the idea, and—believing the boy is a curse—treats him unkindly. A travelling painter comes by one day, and offers to take Jared as an apprentice. When Eben accepts the chance to get rid of his son, will Jared’s life become easier? Can he learn the trade well enough that he can finally gain the approval of his father—and the girl he loves? Beyond a beautiful story, we also learn of the unusual year 1816, when late frosts destroyed crops and snow fell every month of the year. This is a beautiful book about faith and God’s love, one that both young children and adults will enjoy.

David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer, by Janet and Geoff Benge12. David Livingstone: Africa’s Trailblazer  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

David Livingstone is well-known for his expeditions into Africa’s interior, but lesser-known facts about his family life and growing up years are brought to light through this fascinating book. I’m always amazed at how well Janet and Geoff Benge can make someone who’s been dead for years fascinating, and this book is just an example of their prowess. Tracing David’s life from a curious child, to young adulthood, and eventually to the mission field—where he never seemed to settle down!—is an adventure in itself. We really enjoyed this book when Mom read it aloud, and I’m sure your family will, too.

Cameron Townsend: Good News in Every Language, by Janet & Geoff Benge13. Cameron Townsend: Good News in Every Language  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

After enlisting in the army during World War I, Cameron Townsend suddenly found himself called by God to go to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles. God helped him get an honorable discharge, and he immediately set off for Guatemala. While selling Bibles, Cam talked with many people—and met many who could barely speak, let alone read, Spanish. He talked to one native man, who said that Cam’s God must not be very great since He couldn’t speak his language. The man’s words challenged Cam, and for the next ten years he worked to learn the language and then translated the New Testament for the native people. Soon, he began to see that this wasn’t the only group that needed it—and there were many more than one man alone could do. So he founded Wycliffe Bible Translators, where he could train others to do the great task. The work is still continuing today, with many people having received Bibles in their own languages. This book is quite an inspiration!

Always Face a Panther, compiled by Ruth K. Hobbs14. Always Face a Panther  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

A collection of eighteen different stories about earlier days in America, this book has many lessons to teach children (and adults, too!). Through stories such as a girl praying for protection when a panther was trying to catch her, and children being stuck in a house when the levee broke, we are taught great lessons on faith and trusting in God to help us. The stories are very well written, most about people that actually did live a century or more ago. My brothers and I loved each new installment as Mom read it, and I’m sure your family will enjoy the book, too.

Torches of Joy, by John Dekker15. Torches of Joy  |  Best for: Age 10 and above, Adults

The Dani were a superstitious, fearful people before John and Helen Dekker moved to New Guinea in 1960. As John shared the gospel with them—and many were saved—their lives changed drastically, and soon a thriving church was established. The old customs that had bound them for so long were loosed, and they accepted Christ with joy. Within ten years, many learned to read and write, and the Dani themselves were sending out missionaries. This is a beautiful story of how God can and does work even among those with whom seems almost impossible. Older children and teens, especially, will get a lot out of this book.

The Window in the Wall, by Ginny Merritt16. The Window in the Wall  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Living with her happy younger brother and parents in the city of Jericho, Talia often dreams of the beauty of flax blossoms in the spring, and wishes Jericho could be that beautiful all the time. Instead, corruption and darkness abound everywhere, and Papa and Mama do their best to keep their children sheltered from such things. However, the news of an army approaching can’t be kept from even the smallest children. This army isn’t just any army, either—it’s the children of Israel, who have already conquered other cities! Will Talia and her family be alright, as her aunt Rahab tells her they will be? This is a very well-written, fascinating book that helps children understand the fall of Jericho better.

The Twila Stories, by Johnny Ruhl17. The Twila Stories  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 8

A story written for young children, the Twila Stories illustrate the importance of relying on God for our every need. When someone cheated Twila, she waited for God to work in their heart, and eventually got the money she needed. When she was looking for a horse, she asked for advice from a Godly man she knew. And when Grandfather came to visit, she learned a lot more about what it means to follow Jesus. While Twila can come across as almost too perfect, there are some very interesting lessons to be learned through this book.

Markie and the Hammond Cousins, by Wanda M. Yoder18. Markie and the Hammond Cousins (the Hammond Cousins series, book 1)  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

Markie and his family have just recently moved into the area, and the Hammond cousins aren’t sure how to respond to the situation. Since Markie has Down Syndrome, and acts strangely at times, they don’t always know how to act around him, and they aren’t sure they want their friends to know he’s a relative. Will Markie always be on the outside of the family circle? Can the Hammond cousins learn to love and include him for who he is, not for who they want him to be? This is a wonderful (clean!) story to introduce Down Syndrome to children, or to simply have an entertaining read about Christian families.

Ricky and the Hammond Cousins, by Wanda M. Yoder19. Ricky and the Hammond Cousins (the Hammond Cousins series, book 2)  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

If Markie was a challenge to accept, Ricky, Uncle Jerry’s son, is doubly a challenge. Owing to his parent’s lifestyle when he was born, Ricky has always struggled with ADHD, and since his mother died, Uncle Jerry has brought him back to live with him. Ricky can’t seem to control himself—and even Grandma isn’t so sure after a while if love and good food will help him become more obedient and happy. Can the Hammond cousins love and forgive him—even though his young life was harsh, and he sometimes does things that aren’t at all nice? A great way to introduce ADHD to children, this is also an entertaining read about Christian family living.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In the Midst of Wickedness, by Janet & Geoff Benge20. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In the Midst of Wickedness  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15, Adults

Sometimes, the decisions people make are not always easy to understand or accept. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a man who exemplified this, and ever since then there have been many debates on his life. Was he right? wrong? both? These are questions that are hard to answer, but through this fascinating story we can get a better picture of what made him make the decisions he did.

As a young man, growing up in a Christian home, Dietrich saw war as something honorable—where men of all ages could get fame. As he grew older, became a pastor, and saw Hitler rise to power, his earlier beliefs were discarded. In their place, he saw the sad reality of what one man’s hate can do to an entire nation, and soon he realized it was his place to warn people about what would happen if Hitler’s campaign continued. He also did his best to keep the Western churches aware of what was going on in Germany, in the hopes that their influence could stop the advance of Nazi terrorism that was steadily overtaking parts of Europe. Eventually, Dietrich decided that it would be better for one man to die than for many others to suffer under him. Even though he helped out with several assassination plots they never succeeded in killing Hitler. This story is great for helping us understand the life of this highly controversial man, and also gives a fascinating picture of Germany around the time that he lived.

Granny Han’s Breakfast, by Sheila Groves21. Granny Han’s Breakfast  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

A missionary in China, Granny Han must trust God to work things out sometimes. Right now, she needs $1000 for some upcoming meetings. God provided the money already, but it came in just after all the banks had closed for the weekend, and while gone to another meeting someone stole the money. Time is running out . . . will God provide what is needed? Granny Han believes He will, and also believes He will provide her breakfast in the morning since she’s now out of food and doesn’t have a way to buy more. This is a beautiful, entertaining story that teaches children to trust in God. It’s always been a family favorite.

The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare22. The Bronze Bow  |  Best for: Age 10 and above, Adults

Daniel has hated the Romans ever since they killed his parents and left his sister half-crazy from her grief. Joining the local rebels seemed like the best option to get revenge. While they do attack Romans sometimes, they also are cruel to their own countrymen as well. Daniel isn’t very content, but he also cannot see any other way to express his hate, so he stays. Then his grandmother dies, and he must care for his sister. Since blacksmithing is the only thing he is confident in, he accepts the offer of a friend who has left home to follow a new teacher named Jesus. He cares for his friend’s shop, and at times when the shop is closed, he too goes to listen to Jesus. While he longs for the peace and joy that he senses in the man, he knows it is impossible to accept the conditions Jesus offers him in order to get that. Is there any hope he can be happy—but still not have to lay down his anger toward the Romans? This is a beautiful story that, while expressing the need each one of us has toward Jesus, also shares how His message affected the ordinary Judaean—and shares the Jewish culture of the time in a real way that I’ve rarely seen elsewhere.

Stories From Africa, by SIM Missionaries23. Stories from Africa  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 8

Through six engrossing stories from Africa, the love of God is shown to children. There’s a story of a girl locked up in a goat house because she loves Jesus, a boy who thought he wouldn’t have eaten the fruit if he was Adam, a sick boy who needed help, and other fascinating stories. My brothers love this book, and I’m sure your children will, too.

Home on the Rock Pile, by Pablo Yoder24. Home on the Rock Pile  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Pablo and his brothers are excited when they learn they are moving up under the Blue Ridge Mountains. While their parents share the love of Jesus with the community, the brothers love nothing more than hiking through the forests on summer days. Through many different ways, God kept the boys safe, and together they grew up fairly safely despite the dangerous situations they found themselves in at times. My whole family could really relate to some of the things the boys got into (something about “boys will be boys”?), and we were always kept on our toes wondering what new trouble would come along next!

Red Sails to Capri, by Ann Weil25. Red Sails to Capri  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15 and above

This is a hilarious story if read aloud properly, and we children are blessed to have a Mom who delights in personifying the voices of the characters she reads about. This book is a study of characters. There’s Angelo, who can always convince people to do things the way he thinks they should be done. Michele, who somehow does a good job at stating the obvious. Mama, who is a wonderful cook and knows how to sing her food to perfection. And of course there are many other fascinating people, who each do their part to make this story both amusing and engaging. While it may have little religious value, it is a humorous, well-written story that deserves to be on the shelf of any reading family

Mary on Horseback, by Rosemary Wells26. Mary on Horseback  |  Best for: Ages 7 – 10

After her second husband and two children died, Mary Breckinridge decided to become a nurse so other children could live. She founded Frontier Nursing Service, and decided to serve in the Appalachian mountains, one of the poorest regions in America. Through the three stories in this book, we get a fascinating look into the life of this woman and what FNS did—how she helped a man who was hurt while running logs down the river, a child whose mother died, and a family with children who had diphtheria.

The Gods Must Be Angry, by Sheila Miller and Ian Murray27. The Gods Must be Angry  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 10

Bradit, a schoolboy who lives in Thailand, has been left at home one day when his mother goes to the market. He decides to imitate the school band he saw the day before, and grabs a stick, waving it in the air as he marches around the inside of their home. The stick accidently connects with the head of the happy idol, sending it crashing to the floor. When his parents get home, they are very upset with him, even though he tries to deny that he has had anything to do with it. What will happen to the family now? Will they get bad luck because their idol has been broken? This is a true story, one my brothers loved and your children will enjoy as well.

Within the Palace Gates, by Anna P. Siviter28. Within the Palace Gates  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

This book is one of my all-time favorites. It’s very Biblically based, it’s researched incredibly well, and the story is fascinating. Nehemiah, the main character, is based on the Nehemiah in the Bible. We also get to meet his family, who have many struggles that are not completely unlike our own. When Nehemiah’s brother, Hanani, comes to ask the great King for help to get his wife and son back after their being taken into slavery, Nehemiah learns of the terrible state Jerusalem is in. As the king’s cupbearer, however, he knows all too well the danger that one misstep could bring to him and his family. How can he present his petition to the king without the king getting angry? How can he explain the fact that the Jews badly need the protection of sturdy walls and a solid government? Then, when poison is found in the king’s special cup, is all lost before they’ve even started?

This story has many ups and downs, many interconnected threads, and lots of wonderfully presented facts about the ancient Persians and Jews. The ending is especially sweet, and this is a story both old and young will love. My favorite part was realizing how close this story follows the Biblical narrative—while bringing the characters to life, the facts were not changed at all from the original.

Year of the Black Pony, by Walt Morey29. Year of the Black Pony  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

Chris’s father has died, and now the family has to find a way to support themselves. If they don’t have money, they can’t afford to continue ranching, and unless they went back to a big city Ma wouldn’t be able to earn enough to support them. She decides the best way to keep the family together, on a ranch, is to marry Mr. Chase, a local bachelor. Reluctantly, Mr. Chase agrees when he sees how a marriage could help him as well—but for Ma, this is a marriage of convenience and nothing more. Will Chris’s dream horse ever be his own? Can they ever be a happy family? My brothers love this story, and I do too. The ending is very sweet, and the story itself—while not outright Christian—definitely has themes of relying on God through it.

Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems, by Janet & Geoff Benge30. Amy Carmichael: Rescuer of Precious Gems  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

Amy Carmichael accepted the Lord’s call to work for Him as an eighteen-year-old, and soon it became clear that she was to work with the “shawlies”—Scotland’s women factory workers. After several years serving in both Scotland and England, Amy felt called to Japan—but soon she became sick, so she decided to go to India to recuperate. The climate in the area of India she was in did help, and soon she had a thriving ministry with women and girls going. Eventually, she realized she needed a safe place to care for the temple girls that came to her for protection, so she founded Dohnavur Fellowship where she and other Indian Christians cared for many different children over the years. Through her many sicknesses, she wrote many books and pamphlets to both encourage the Western churches, and help them understand better the need for missionaries in different parts of the world. This biography was very well written, and I hope I can share it with my brothers eventually, too.

Question: What were some of your favorite childhood stories? What are some books that are in your family read-alouds pile?

10 Ancient Historical Fiction Books All Teens Should Read

I haven’t been very impressed with the quality of books coming from the recent rise in teenage literature. Now, I know there are good books out there — there always are good books to buy — but most everything doesn’t look like it’s worth a whole lot. So today I’m being a rebel and making my own book list for teens — from books that are worth their weight and will teach you some history besides. These books are good books. They’re worth wasting an afternoon on. Enjoy!

10 Ancient Historical Fiction Books All Teens Should Read

Pontius Pilate, by Paul L. Maier1. Pontius Pilate  |  Best for: Age 15 and above, Adults

We all know Pontius Pilate as the guy who condemned Jesus to crucifixion. The man who had no backbone whatsoever to stand up and do what was right. What we don’t know, however, is what the rest of his life was like. Paul Maier did a marvelous job researching this story, and created a fascinating tale of ancient Rome and Israel, setting up the scene so we can understand better what was going on when Jesus was on the earth.

Hittite Warrior, by Joanne Williamson2. Hittite Warrior  |  Best for: Age 12 and above, Adults

What would it have been like to live in a typical Canaanite city during the days of the book of Judges? Through Uriah’s eyes, we see the fascinating tale of Barak and Deborah, Sisera and Jael, and get to watch God’s hand at work in many ways. This isn’t only a story of the Israelites at that time, though—it encompasses the Canaanite beliefs, their enemies of the time, and much more. While not completely Biblically correct, this is a wonderful, engrossing story that shows the time period in a clearer light than I have ever seen in any other book.

Twice Freed, by Patricia St. John3. Twice Freed  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15 and above

A Patricia St. John masterpiece, this enthralling tale of adventure, hate, and coming to Christ is well worth its place in the hall of Christian historical fiction. Onesimus, a slave, longs for freedom—but what price is he willing to pay in order to get that freedom? When the chance he’s been waiting for finally comes, he takes it—and realizes this isn’t really where he wants to be. He ends up meeting the Apostle Paul, but can he accept the teachings of love and patience that Paul seems to believe in so strongly? This story is a testament to the life and teachings of Paul, and is an encouraging reminder of the fact that God cares for each one of us—no matter who we are.

God King, by Joanne Williamson4. God King  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

This is another of Joanne Williams’ Biblical masterpieces. Through Taharka’s story, we get to see the amazing miracle of the Assyrians being defeated by the Lord through the faith of King Hezekiah. The story follows the little-known facts we have about a king of Egypt named Taharka, who had to deal with both a family revolt and the threat of the Assyrians. So while giving an amazing view of what it was like to be an Israelite at the time, we also get a great picture of Ancient Egypt and how difficult it would have been to be a pharaoh. Two wonderful stories pulled into one, which makes for lots of tension and a great novel.

The Golden Goblet, by Eloise Jarvis McGraw5. The Golden Goblet  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15 and above

Ancient Egypt: Ranofer longs to be a goldsmith, but his step-brother Gebu, a stonecutter, cares little for anything other than finding ways to get more gold. I had a hard time deciding whether or not to include this story in the list. While worth a lot when it comes to giving a feel for what Ancient Egypt was like, it isn’t a Christian story by any stretch of the imagination. The plot is great—you instantly feel sorry for Ranofer, and when bad goes to worse it’s really hard to put this book down. It’s also a fairly clean book, for the most part. While this story is definitely not twaddle, it does have a lot of mentions of the Egyptian gods, which means I can’t recommend it quite as highly as other stories (such as God King, above).

Titus: A Comrade of the Cross, by Florence Morse Kingsley6. Titus: A Comrade of the Cross  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15, Adults

Israel, at the time of Jesus Christ. Titus is trapped in a life not of his own choice, with his father a robber and his brother a cripple. Through his eyes—and some insights from others around him—the life and ministry of Jesus are shown in a new light. This is a great companion to studies of Jesus’ life, and a fascinating story of despair, hope, and new life.

Beyond the Desert Gate, by Mary Ray7. Beyond the Desert Gate  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15 and above

This is a great story about Judea in 70 AD. Philo’s father is a merchant, and in his travels he comes across a young man on the point of death after being captured by the Romans. This new friend can’t remember anything about his past, except that he thinks he helped a group of women and children escape Jerusalem when the Romans were taking over the city. Then the Romans come to their own quiet town, intent on gathering supplies and troops to crush the Jewish rebellion once and for all. One of Philo’s brothers goes to join the Jewish Zealots, and Philo has to work for the Romans in order to keep food on their table. With tension escalating in the family—and danger to themselves and their livelihood—can the family make the right decisions and thus get through this difficult time? This story brings the fall of Jerusalem and the Jewish nation to life.

The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff8. The Eagle of the Ninth  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15 and above

The ninth legion marched into the north of Britain—and never returned. Marcus, the son of the centurion who led the legion, is determined to find out what happened and bring the eagle back—thus preserving the honor of his father’s and the legion’s name. Then he is badly injured in a fight, and his quest appears to be an impossible dream. Will the ninth legion’s name always be disgraced? Can the warring tribes of Britain ever be under control of the Roman army? This story adds a whole new depth to the stories of Rome in Britain, and—along with a great adventure—shows the inner workings of the Roman army and how the British people lived in 1–200 AD.

The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare9. The Bronze Bow  |  Best for: Age 10 and above, Adults

With the Romans ruling over Judea, life for Daniel is very hard. He hates what they have done to his countrymen and himself, and wants revenge—in any way, shape or form. While with the local band of rebels, he is able to unleash that hate at times, but then his grandmother falls sick and dies, giving him no choice but to abandon the outlaws and care for his sister. Meanwhile, a new teacher comes on the scene, preaching love and forgiveness. Daniel longs for the peace and joy he senses in this man Jesus and his followers, but in order to follow Him he must also forgive the Romans—and that is something he isn’t willing to do. This book is gripping from the very beginning, and doesn’t feel “flat” like so many other books I’ve read about Jesus and other famous men at the time. This story has a vibrantly real feel to it, and is a great favorite at our house.

The Ides of April, by Mary Ray10. The Ides of April  |  Best for: Ages 12 –  15 and above

Hylas’ master is found dead, and only by a miracle has Hylas not been captured and sent to prison as well. The other household slaves—including his mother—will be killed if the murderer isn’t found quickly. Can Hylas, with the help of his master’s son-in-law, discover the murderer before it’s too late? Set in ancient Rome, this story is very helpful when studying the Roman’s way of life. It’s also a good clean story that anyone would enjoy even without the history.

Question: What other great historical fiction books for teens have you read that aren’t on this list? Please share; I’m always on the lookout for more good books to read!

8 Twaddle-Free World War II Stories for All Ages

One of Dad’s coworkers—a family friend—has told a fascinating story about his family. His family lived in Holland when the Nazis took over, and his grandfather helped to hide Jews. Along with some of the family, his grandfather was arrested—and eventually died in concentration camp. Some of his family still has a hard time talking about the Germans.

While a tragic tale, it is something that seems to be very common from places affected by the Nazis. World War II stories come up frequently—especially ones coming from an Allied viewpoint. Have you ever noticed before how few books there are that show the war from the Axis point of view? Today’s collection has a few different books in it—several sharing what it was like to live under the dictatorship of the Nazis, one about the Communists, and several others about people generally affected by the war.

All of the titles below are great as read-alouds.

8 Twaddle-Free World War II Stories for All Ages

Twenty and Ten by Claire Huchet Bishop1. Twenty and Ten  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

Sister Gabriel is caring for twenty children in a house close to a remote village, where they hope to be safe until the war is over. Then a request comes to hide ten Jewish children for a while. Even though it could be extremely dangerous if they were caught, both the children and Sister Gabriel feel like it is their responsibility to try to protect these children. Then, one day, instead of seeing Sister Gabriel coming home with food from the village, the children spot two German soldiers on the road. They must hide the Jewish children, but where? And will they have enough food to last until Sister Gabriel gets back—or the soldiers leave?

Escape from Warsaw (or The Silver Sword), by Ian Serraillier2. Escape from Warsaw  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15

Joseph has been taken prisoner by the Nazis, and sent off to prison. He knows he must get back to care for his family, and even though it’s difficult he manages to escape and sets off for home. When he arrives back, however, he finds his home in ruins and a neighbor across the street tells him that his wife was taken to prison, the house locked up with his children still inside, and then the Germans set off a bomb to destroy the place.

Meanwhile, the children have managed to escape, and forged living quarters among the ruins of their destroyed city—away from the destruction of their once-happy home. The three of them—Ruth, Bronia, and Edek—get along fairly well, until one day a Nazi patrol picks up Edek. Ruth and Bronia must fend for themselves. They have no choice but to go to their grandparent’s place—where their parents had told them to go if something happened to the two of them. But the journey is dangerous—will they be able to get there safely? How will they find enough food to eat? Will they ever be a complete, happy family again? This story is for slightly older children—say 10 and over—and it is a great picture of what life for children of that time would have been like.

Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry3. Number the Stars  |  Best for: Ages 7 – 12

Annemarie’s friend, Ellen, is a Jew. As the Nazis begin rounding up the Jews, Annemarie’s family decide to take in Ellen, and the girl’s parents go into hiding elsewhere. It’s a dangerous risk to take in a Jew, but for now there is no other choice. Early one morning, two Nazi soldiers raid their apartment, and they must make them believe, somehow, that Ellen is a part of the family. What will happen to all of them—but especially Ellen—if the Germans find out she isn’t who they say she is? How can Annemarie and her family protect her friend? This is an exciting story, one that all youngsters will enjoy.

The Endless Steppe, by Esther Hautzig4. The Endless Steppe  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15 and above

In 1941, ten-year-old Esther lived with her happy family in a town in Poland, helping out where she could, spending time with her aunts, uncles, and grandparents, and tending some of the family’s vast gardens. She had heard that a war was going on outside, but it was far removed from her peaceful life. Then one day the Russian soldiers pounded on the door and told them that they were “capitalists, enemies of the people”, and that they were to be sent somewhere else to live. That “somewhere else” turned out to be a gypsum mine in Siberia. With her whole family broken up, and little food, can they hope to see anyone in the family make it through alive? This is a fascinating story of how the Russians treated the people they conquered, and what life was like in Siberia at that time.

Snow Treasure, by Marie McSwigan5. Snow Treasure  |  Best for: Ages 8 – 15 and above

Norway’s gold bullion is in danger of falling into Nazi hands, and it must be removed as quickly and efficiently as possible. After conferring about the problem, it is decided that the children of the village are the only hope of getting it all to safety. By putting the gold into little sacks, each child could take a sack, sled down to a designated spot close to a hidden fiord where a boat was secretly moored, and then return to make the dangerous journey again. This is a thrilling adventure story, one all children will love to hear—and the best part? At least to some extent, it is founded on fact.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, by Janet & Geoff Benge6. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: In the Midst of Wickedness  |  Best for: Ages 12 – 15, Adults

A story written more for young adults than children, this tells about the greatly controversial life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. As a child, he thought World War I very exciting, but when the food levels ran low and he had to help scavenge like other children, he realized war wasn’t as glorious as he had thought. Then, in the intervening years between World War I and World War II, he grew up and became a pastor. When Hitler rose to power, he along with his family feared the worst—and, soon, the man’s ideology was controlling all of Germany. Dietrich did his best to help the international community understand what was going on in Germany, and did what he believed was the right course of action as a pastor. He was involved in several unsuccessful assassination attempts, and eventually imprisoned because of his beliefs. This is not a very happy story, for the most part, but it is an amazingly well-told story about how Hitler affected Germany, and what life was like under his ruling. It’s also a great biography of a fascinating man.

Jars of Hope, by Jennifer Roy7. Jars of Hope  |  Best for: Ages 5 – 12

Through this book full of beautiful pictures, we get to see a bit of the life of Irena Sendler and her great service to the world during World War II. A social worker in Poland, Irena worked among the 500,000 Jews crammed together into the 2 square miles of the Warsaw Ghetto. Under the guise of giving vaccinations—to “prevent disease spreading to the rest of the city”, she was able to smuggle somewhere around 2,500 children out of the ghetto and give them safe homes. She kept detailed records of their real names and true parents, as well as their assumed names and who now cared for them. You can’t play the game long without being found out—what will happen to those children if the records are discovered?

Corrie Ten Boom - World War II Heroine, by Sam Wellman8. Corrie Ten Boom: World War II Heroine  |  Best for: Ages 10 – 15 and above

Corrie Ten Boom has always been an inspiration to me. She isn’t perfect—are any of us?—and yet she wholeheartedly served the Lord right where He placed her. Growing up, she was a bit of a prankster—although she always repented afterward. Then as she grew older, and no husband came along, she did work for the Lord that included working with young women and retarded children. She also worked in her father’s watch shop.

When World War II began, and Germany invaded Holland and slowly began rounding up Jews, she realized she had a job to do there, too. Soon, aided by her father “Opa” and sister Betsy, she began working in the Dutch underground—helping Jews find safe hiding places, sourcing and then distributing ration cards, and helping those in need as much as she could. Then someone betrayed them to the Nazis, and they were all taken to prison, Corrie and Betsy later going on to concentration camp. Corrie was eventually freed, and went around the world sharing messages about God’s love and forgiveness. This is a great story to share with your older children, showing how God can use anyone for His work—even a watchmaker and his daughter.

Question: Does your family—or any family friends—have passed-down stories from the war days? What World War II stories would you add to this list?